Living with digestive health issues can make everyday activities difficult.
I've been invited to go camping, but I'm not sure if there are restrooms nearby.
I have a lot of work to do. Can I schedule my meetings around my bathroom breaks?
I want to see that movie, but I don't know if my stomach is up for it.
While all of this is difficult, having a condition such as IBS or colitis doesn't have to make life impossible. There are steps you can take to manage your health troubles.
1. Stick To Your Treatment Plan
After diagnosing your problem, your doctor will work with you to come up with a treatment plan. It could mean medication, or some new habits and an altered diet.
Take time to try to absorb all this new information. Take notes, and keep them organized with any resource materials from your doctor. Review the information as often as you can, and write down questions to ask your doctor later.
2. Spot Your Triggers
Digestive health issues can be set off by a range of things, so try to identify your triggers. Which foods and beverages upset your digestive tract? Are there certain eating patterns that give you trouble?
For some people, certain medications can cause digestive flare-ups, so keep a record of which ones affect you and talk this over with your doctor.
And for some people, digestive health trouble comes from external triggers: stressful situations, travel, etc. You may want to keep a journal of what you eat, the medications and supplements you take, and daily events. You begin to see patterns among these things and your digestive problems.
3. Balance Your Diet
It's important to know what to eat and what to avoid, but you should also pay attention to portion size, how quickly you eat, and how often you eat.
Consider eating several small meals throughout the day. Eating large meals can cause sudden bowel contractions. Speak to your doctor about how much fiber you should be eating; with the right balance, it helps regulate your digestion, and gradual integration of fiber can prevent diarrhea, gas and bloating.
4. Proper Hydration
Water helps keep your stools soft, yet still solid, and promotes normal bowel function. Drinks with caffeine or sugar can trigger digestive problems, so avoid them if you're concerned.
If you have diarrhea, drink plenty of fluids. Stick with water and sports drinks, while avoiding caffeine and alcohol. And be sure to drink plenty of water during hot weather or anytime you exercise to prevent becoming dehydrated.
5. Have An Emergency Plan
No matter what steps you take, accidents can still happen. And you can prepare yourself, by putting together an emergency kit for home, work/school, or when you travel.
You should pack some fast-acting medication to combat diarrhea, gas or bloating, some pre-moistened travel wipes, extra underwear, disposable pads or underwear for incontinence and some plastic bags to dispose of soiled clothing and wipes.
If these accidents become a regular occurrence, talk to your doctor.
6. Don't Suffer In Silence
There's no need to keep your digestive issues a secret. Tell your family and friends to help them understand how/why/when these issues affect you, and explain how they can support you. Tell them about your plan to manage your troubles.
And remember that there are many other people suffering with digestive issues. Find a support group – either in person or online – that lets you talk with people who have been through what you're going through. Your doctor or hospital may be able to recommend a group.
If you're looking for other ways to improve your digestive health, check out products by Proper Nutrition. Our digestive health support supplements such as Seacure are protein-rich white fish tablets designed to ease symptoms including diarrhea, gas and bloating. They also restore gut integrity in people with Crohn’s disease, IBS, malabsorption and other disorders.
Just a few capsules a day can help you live a more active, comfortable life.